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Hospital Bag

How to Pack the Hospital Bag

Today I went in for an appointment with my midwife and learned that I am 50% effaced and 1 cm dilated.  Whaaat?  I realize this is technically nothing to freak out about until it’s time to freak out about it, but I also decided two things:

  1. I need to actually SLOW DOWN and listen to my body
  2. I should probably pack my hospital bag so my loving husband doesn’t get stuck doing it in some emergency situation, preparing me with a toothbrush and a pillow stuffed into a plastic shopping bag.

Packing your bag for labor and delivery is totally subjective to your own preferences.  I know some friends who like to bring their own clothes for labor and for ASAP in postpartum recovery.  They also like to pack several baby clothing options and supplies to start dressing their bundles of joy in cute threads as soon as they can.  I am the total opposite.  Perhaps it is my love and appreciation for delegating tasks, but I like to pack as little as possible and rock the hospital supplied wardrobe for most of my stay.  My thought is quick clean up, easy openings for frequent check ups and breast feeding, and little to no laundry to worry about the second I get home!  Bring on the gowns and gigantic net undies, I’m all over it.  Whatever your preference on how many personal items you want to come equipped with, when packing your own hospital bag it is important to consider a couple of major points

  1. What will your hospital have there for you? – Even if you prefer to wear your own clothes during and immediately after labor, there are many items that your hospital can provide you with.  It is extremely helpful to take the tour of your hospital before you begin packing and ask plenty of questions.  My hospital for the twins is a brand new facility and has moved to the top of my list for weekend spa options.  Some of the things that I know will be there waiting for me are: hospital gowns and postpartum panties, feminine postpartum products, breast pump and supplies, hair dryer, I pod dock, on staff massage therapist and acupuncturist (I know right?!), essential oils, postpartum Epsom salts, diapers, wipes, pacifiers, swaddling blankets, baby caps, baby shirts, flat screen TV with DVD player, pillows etc.  If your hospital does not supply these items you will want to pack them yourself! With the birth of my first son I packed WAY too much stuff that I didn’t use- now that I understand what accoutrements come with my hospital bill I feel compelled to utilize them.
  2. How long might your stay be?– This is a tough one to foresee especially for twin moms.  If the babies need time in the special care nursery or NICU your stay may be prolonged.  However, if you are simply considering YOUR stay before discharge, a vaginal birth is usually 3 days and c-section can be up to 5.  Again, good questions to confirm with your health care provider. If you miss a couple of items, send a significant other, friend, relative out get them- this is one of those times in life we need to get used to asking for what we need and welcoming help!
  3. What are a few of your favorite things?- I am of the mindset that the hospital stay can be an enjoyable experience.  I like to bring things that make me feel cozy and pampered.  Sure there is a lot going on and you are exhausted and there is plenty to learn and get used to before they send you out into the real world with you new babies, but there is also a lot of snuggling, quiet time and bonding that goes on uninterrupted that you do not get back- try to enjoy every second!

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Labor

Labor can take a while.  A very long while in fact.  Pack things to entertain yourself.  I am brining an adult coloring book, my iPad, a camera, some DVDs (I always bring Ever a After and The Princess Bride- these are two of my faves that keep me totally distracted and in my happy place), and thank you cards (I am insanely behind on my thank you’s already).  I may use all of these items, I may use none of them.  Whatever electronics you choose to bring, bring the chargers too.  Also, do yourself a favor and bring a set of headphones as well as an auxiliary cord. If your hospital has an iPod dock, I guarantee it will not be compatible with your phone/device.  Murphy’s law, bring the cord.

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Postpartum

Again, when it comes to packing for the hospital I am a minimalist.  If you prefer being in your own clothes, this is where you will want to add some high waisted cotton panties of the sexy granny variety, loose fitting/drawstring pants and shirts.  I will probably add some over sized button up night shirts to this category incase I get tired of my hospital moo moo.  If you do the same, consider a button down for easy skin to skin/nursing/postpartum checks.  Cozy socks, slippers, hair ties, supportive (non underwire) nursing bras, a massage roller, flip flops (for easy walking to and from bathroom/shower), and fabulous robe are also a must in this category.

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Toiletries

My hair hates me.  Unless I’m at home and I take the time to wash and style it correctly by blowing it out with patience and smoothing it with a straightener, I just give up- there is no happy medium.  Quite frankly, good hair is not a priority for me while recovering from labor, therefore I am totally prepared to spend my stay looking like a member of White Snake.  Nonetheless, bring supplies that will help you feel clean and fabulous.  Also hospital air is dry, so be sure to pack plenty of moisturizer.  I like Mario Badescu night creams because they are super hydrating and they don’t break the bank.  Also Tarte makes some great maracuja oil products including a face oil and eye cream that are great- I found a travel pack that is perfect for the suitcase- available in my Twinning Mom Must Haves shop.

 

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Babies

Items to bring for baby can include however many outfits you prefer (consider pictures you may want to take) going home outfits, pacifiers, swaddling blankets, diapers and wipes, non-toxic toiletries per your preference (the first bath usually occurs at the hospital), etc. Again, most of these key items are also available at the hospital.  With both of my babies I had wished that I didn’t pack diapers because I have always had an awesome nurse who hooked us up with packages of diapers and wipes before leaving.  This time I will have no shame in not packing a single diaper- I may even consider bringing and extra empty suitcase to fill with hospital diapers.  Just kidding.  Kind of.

Some other things to bring along include:

Nursing Pillow for holding and feeding- Consider a pillow specifically for twins- in my research the two best options are the Twin Z pillow and the My Brest Friend Twin pillow.  I’m getting both!  If you plan on nursing, take advantage of your hospital opportunity to seek advice from nurses and on staff lactation consultants while you and your babies learn how to nurse.  If your hospital does not supply breast pumps, bring yours from home just in case.

Pillows and favorite blankets- The hospital has plenty of linens, but nothing beats your own pillow.

Car Seats!!!- Make sure the bases are properly installed.  You will not be allowed to leave the hospital until they see your car seat.  Safety first!

Clothes for Partner– Or you can let them worry about their own clothes, though it may not be on their mind and pictures will be taken- I would hate for my husband to chose to wear his White Snake concert T-shirt and accidentally match my hair.  People would really start to get the wrong idea…

Twinning Moms, please chime in if you have anything add to this list!!!  My two experiences were with singletons and I would love to hear of any helpful items I might be missing.